Peace Process by Economic Approach

September 19, 2020

The road to Arab-Israeli peace no longer runs through Ramallah.” (Avi Mayer)

The US-brokered Israel-UAE normalization agreement in August 2020 was swiftly followed by a similar agreement between Serbia and Kosovo, as well as an Israel-Bahrain agreement. The Israel vs. Arab perception is rapidly changing to an Israel-Arab vs. Iran perception. White House announced the Serbia-Kosovo normalization agreement only 22 days after it announced the groundbreaking Israel-UAE normalization agreement, and an Israel-Bahrain normalization agreement was announced shortly after the Serbia-Kosovo news.

Kosovo’s normalization with Israel makes it the fifth Muslim country to normalize or sign a peace agreement with Israel following the peace agreements with Egypt in 1977, Jordan in 1994, Lebanon in 1983 after the Israeli invasion the previous year, and the UAE in 2020—and since the announcement they have been joined by a sixth, the Gulf State of Bahrain.

Critics accuse Trump of seeking a quick foreign policy success to tout ahead of his bid for re-election in November 2020. This might be true. However in my opinion the recent MidEast (peace) process is moving fast forward. Previous peace process implemented last two decades has been moderate at most; the goal Utopian or delusional and the roadmap towards aim has been dead for years. The new partly implemented – out of the box – approach is from my perspective based facts on the ground, the progress is made by economic side first instead of political and the approach is more regional one than bilateral especially related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Widening anti-Iranian coalition

And, you know, if you want to have peace in the region, you have to create peace with Israel. This is the first step. This is the strong message.” (Tri Ali Rashid al Nuaimi/UAE)

The decision by the United Arab Emirates to sign an agreement toward normalization with Israel was hailed by Egypt, Oman, Bahrain, Sudan and Mauritania. It was severely criticized, however, by Islamist forces and the Palestinian Authority. For many years, and particularly over the last decade, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has striven to disseminate a religious-political doctrine that defines peace as an Islamic value and a fundamental element of national identity. It poses this stance as an ideological alternative to the radical concepts of political Islam advocated by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi-jihadist forces in the region. Those who formulated it named it the Abraham Accord, in honor of the father of the three monotheistic religions.

UAE-Israel deal is very significant also to Iran. The Iranian investments in the Emirates are estimated to total in about 300 billion dollars. The Emirates are home to a large community of hundreds of thousands of Iranians. According to various estimates, 454,000 Iranians lived in the Emirates in 2018 (about five percent of the UAE’s population), most of them in Dubai (Iran Migration Outlook, 2020). In addition, about 8,000 Iranian traders operate in the UAE, along with thousands of Iranian-run businesses. There is also a social-cultural Iranian club in Dubai, Iranian schools and an Iranian hospital. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, airlines operated about 200 flights on a weekly basis from various cities in Iran to the UAE, which brought in about 100,000 Iranian tourists into the country on an annual basis.

Serbia/Kosovo

On September 4th, 2020, President Donald Trump hosted Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic and Kosovo PM Avdullah Hoti at the White House to sign an economic normalization agreement that will i.a lead to the establishment of air, rail, and motorway links between Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, and Kosovo’s capital, Pristina. However on the economic front, Serbia and Kosovo are also at odds over the Trepca lead and zinc mining complex, energy supplies, the Gazivode/Ujmani reservoir and trade barriers.

Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 1999 when NATO bombed for 11 weeks Serbia. It declared independence in 2008 with the backing of the major Western powers and over the fierce objections of Serbia and e.g. its big-power ally Russia. The EU, with the backing of the US, has spent years trying to prod the two sides towards what diplomats call a ‘normalization of relations’.

As part of normalization deal Belgrade and Pristina have both vowed to establish relationships with Israel. They plan to open embassies in Jerusalem by 2021, which will make them the first European countries to do so. Significantly, Pristina’s will be the first embassy of a Muslim-majority state in Israel.

Despite normalization agreement I still think that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, as well as its hasty recognition as an independent state, was a mistake – in my view Kosovo is failed state or even captured state by organized crime clans –Albanian mafia. Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA aka UÇK) were established mid-90s during war in Bosnia. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society. (More e.g in Kosovo President Hashim Thaçi Indicted for War Crimes )

 

Bahrain

Bahrain agreed to establish formal relations with Israel in advance of Tuesday’s [15th Sep. 2020] anticipated historic signing in Washington of an accord to normalize ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It is likely that a second accord could be signed Tuesday between Israel and Bahrain.

Israel is now “working toward the opening of an Israeli embassy in Bahrain,” according to a Foreign Ministry official. Already on Saturday [12th Sep. 2020] Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi spoke with his Bahrain counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid al Zayani. “I look forward to deepening and strengthening the relations between our two countries. Together we will work towards peace and stability in the Middle East,” Ashkenazi tweeted.

On Friday [11th Sep. 2020] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that more agreements with Arab states would follow the Bahrain agreement, and the one arrived at with the UAE in August. To underscore the speed with which events are unfolding, Netanyahu noted on Friday that it took 26 years, from the signing of a peace deal between Israel and Jordan in 1994, for there to be an existing deal, such as the one with the UAE. After that, he said, it was only another 29 days to make a fourth deal. “This is a new era of peace,” Netanyahu said in a video message, in which he underscored that what is occurring now is “peace for peace” and “economy for economy.”

After Trump’s announcement, the US, along with Israel and Bahrain issued a joint statement.

This is a historic breakthrough to further peace in the Middle East. Opening direct dialog and ties between these two dynamic societies and advanced economies will continue the positive transformation of the Middle East and increase stability, security and prosperity in the region,” it said.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan had a conversation with Bahrain’s ambassador to the UN, Jamal Fares Alrowaiei. Israel’s Mission to the UN called the conversation “warm” and said that the two congratulated each other. The two reportedly “also agreed to meet to discuss cooperation in the UN on issues of innovation and economic development for the benefit of the two countries.

Expanding the circle of peace in the Middle East can lead to a change at the UN as well,” Erdan said. “We are entering a new era in which we can publicly work together on security issues and the economic prosperity of Israel and the Arab countries. Together, we will face the challenges that threaten stability in the Middle East.”

 

Qatar

According to London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, Maj.-Gen. Herzl “Herzi” Halevi, IDF’s Southern Command chief, flew to Doha/ Qatar late August along with other officials from the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad, and National Security Council to reduce tensions with the Gaza Strip and restore a sense of quiet to the South and to prevent a military escalation.While Egypt has been playing the main role in mediating the crises, the report said the IDF wants to see Qatar play a larger role in mediating, and not just send financial aid to the group. Halevi made a similar visit in February with Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen.

Qatar is the main financial provider to Gaza, periodically sending millions of dollars to Hamas every month for the past two years with Israel’s approval to pay for fuel for the Strip’s power plant, as well as to pay the salaries of the group’s civil servants and provide aid to tens of thousands of families. Doha first began sending $5 million per month, later increasing it to $10m. and then to $20m. This year it started sending $30m. According to reports, Hamas is demanding another increase, $40m. every month in cash on a regular basis, to extend to a “pre-determined long-term period of time.”

 

Splitting Arab League

the triumph of money over dignity” (Senior PA official Hussein al-Sheikh)

In blow to Palestinians, Arab League refuses [9th Sep. 2020] to condemn normalization deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, proposed by the Palestinian Authority. Senior official says foreign ministers were not in agreement on Palestinian issue, after PA foreign minister criticizes body for failure to show unity in backing its cause. Palestinian politicians condemned the deal as soon as it was announced in mid-August by US President Donald Trump, with many calling it “a stab in the back” by an Arab ally. Palestinian Liberation Organization chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said that if Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit could not condemn the treaty, he ought to resign.

https://youtu.be/18NtyF-ZEWA

Furthermore, the Arab League wasn’t in any rush to discuss the issue. Palestinian officials had originally called for an emergency meeting of the pan-Arab body against the deal when it was announced, but said they were told to wait nearly a month, when a regular meeting had already been scheduled. The event also exposes the profound schism in the current Arab and Muslim world between the pragmatic axis, centered in Egypt, Jordan, UAE, and Saudi Arabia, and the radical axes, led by Turkey and Iran.

From historical background it might be worth to mention that on May 15, 1948, the seven founding member states of the Arab League launched what the body’s then-secretary general, Azzam Pasha, called a “war of extermination and a momentous massacre” against Israel, which had been established the previous day. Following Israel’s resounding victory in the 1967 Six-Day War, the League gathered in Khartoum and issued its notorious “three ‘no’s”: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it.”

 

Incapable EU and Delusional Palestinians

I call on the Palestinian leadership to understand the reality, to be responsible, to play a leadership role — as the UAE and Bahrain have done — and to return to the negotiating table,” ( Gabi Ashkenazi. FM/Israel)

The Serbia-Kosovo deal surprised the European Union, which has been leading complex talks between Serbia and its former territory of Kosovo on improving their long-strained relations.The European Union has warned Serbia and Kosovo that they could weaken their chances of gaining membership in the bloc by opening up respective embassies in Jerusalem. Brussels has long maintained that Jerusalem’s final status should be determined through Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, although there is no longer a consensus due to Israel having made diplomatic inroads with numerous European countries, primarily those located in the eastern part of the continent.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi was recently the host of his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, whose countries currently assumes the EU presidency. The discussions between FM’s were related to the new situation after UAE-Israel agreement and freezing of Israel’s plan to extend its sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) as part of the accord. Several EU foreign ministers have reportedly called for the renewal of the EU-Association Council which has not held a formal meeting since 2012. Now in the framework of the recent US-brokered agreements there might be time for normalization also Israel-EU relations.

El Al Flight 971 to the UAE awaits departure from Ben-Gurion Airport, August 31 | Photo: Menahem Kahana/Pool via AP

In another setback for those hoping that the Palestinians be given veto power over Israel’s relations with other countries, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have agreed to make their airspace available to flights flying eastwards out of the Jewish state. The development, will drastically reduce flight times between Israel and the Far East. That knocks down a barrier that’s been up for 72 years.

One can easy understand Palestinian and Iranian concern about the impact of the agreements on the balance of power in the region as a whole and the Persian Gulf in particular. I hope that White House ceremony (signing for peace agreements) could serve as a wake-up call to Palestinians who have long been led to believe that Arab leaders will sacrifice their own national interests on the altar of Palestinian rejectionism. That is clearly no longer the case. Avi Mayer hits the nail on the head concluding that the road to Arab-Israeli peace no longer runs through Ramallah.”

 

My conclusion

An improved economic situation was]“a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” (Jared Kushner)

Foreign policy has not figured prominently in the election campaign, but President Trump is eager to present himself as a peacemaker, his pro-Israel moves have been seen as an effort to bolster his appeal to evangelical Christian voters, an important segment of his political base. Elections might be the cause for timing of these deals but in my opinion they are implementing parts of ”Deal of Century” (DoC) aka ”Trump peace plan” – a long waited Mideast peace plan by the White House – officially known as ”Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, which is a proposal to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

DoC is “out of the box” plan made by by the Trump administration is a reaction to political realities in MidEast, instead of previous UN’s, EU’s etc high flown statements and utopias. DoC is the United States’ redefinition of the parameters for definitively resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an updated version to sc ”Clinton parameters” – created during Oslo process – which were the framework some two decades for negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authority.

And this plan seems to be working on the ground. Today many leaders in the MidEast recognize that the approach that’s been taken in the past hasn’t worked and they realize that there are people who want to see a more vibrant and exciting future.  In my opinion the recent MidEast (peace) process is moving fast forward. Previous peace process implemented last two decades has been moderate at most; the goal Utopian or delusional and the roadmap towards aim has been dead for years. The new partly implemented – out of the box – approach is from my perspective based facts on the ground, the progress is made by economic side first instead of political and the approach is more regional one than bilateral especially related to Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Main sources: AP , JerusalemPost , EuropeanJewishPress , TimesofIsrael , IsraelHayom , JerusalemPost , BESA .

“The shameful agreement between the Emirates and the phony Zionist government is the greatest betrayal of Jerusalem’s hopes” (Tasnim, August 15, 2020)


This article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila blog


Deal of Century finally released

February 9, 2020

Deal of Century” (DoC) aka ”Trump peace plan” – a long waited Mideast peace plan by the White House – has now been released as its full format. Officially known as ”Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People, is a proposal to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Earlier in late June 2019 the economic portion was made for public as the first part of Deal in the Bahrain Conference.

DoC – this “out of the box” plan made by by the Trump administration – is rather a reaction to political realities in MidEast; it is the United States’ redefinition of the parameters for definitively resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in large part espoused Israeli positions. One can describe DoC as an updated version to sc ”Clinton parameters” – created during Oslo process – which were the framework some two decades for negotiations between Israel and Palestinian authority.

 

DoC aka ”Trump peace plan”

[An improved economic situation was]a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” (Jared Kushner)

The plan, outlined in a 180 page report, calls for a two-state solution (Israel and a future Palestine) with Israel retaining all of its current West Bank settlements, all of Jerusalem including the holy sites, and security control over the entire West Bank. The capital of the Palestinian state will be in “eastern Jerusalem,” in neighbourhoods beyond Israel’s security barrier.

The plan speaks about an innovative network of roads, bridges and tunnels that enable freedom of movement. The tunnels will be state-of-the-art, according to the plan. It will include tunnels or a covered road that might link Gaza and the West Bank, according to the map.a 34-km. tunnel or covered overpass that links the West Bank to Gaza.

The plan’s map seems to show the Palestinian state extending to large enclaves in Israel’s Negev that will be larger than Gaza itself.

Here are some of the key points, as outlined by the White House:

  • The Vision provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel, with Israel retaining security responsibility west of the Jordan River.
  • Over time, the Palestinians will work with United States and Israel to assume more security responsibility as Israel reduces its security footprint.
  • Approximately 97% of Israelis in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory, and approximately 97% of Palestinians in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Palestinian territory. Land swaps will provide the State of Palestine with land reasonably comparable in size to the territory of pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza.
  • Israel has agreed to a four-year land freeze to secure the possibility of a two-state solution.
  • Jerusalem will stay united and remain the capital of Israel, while the capital of the State of Palestine will be Al-Quds and include areas of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, where the United States will build its embassy.
  • Palestinian refugees will be given a choice to live within the future State of Palestine, integrate into the countries where they currently live, or resettle in a third country. but refugees will be able to return to Palestinian territory (i.e., the territory controlled by the PA) or to receive reparations from an international fund. After the agreement is signed the status of refugee will be abolished and UNRWA will be dismantled.
  • The Palestinian population located in enclaves that remain inside contiguous Israeli territory but that are part of the State of Palestine shall become citizens of the State of Palestine and shall have the option to remain in place unless they choose otherwise. They will have access routes connecting them to the State of Palestine. They will be subject to Palestinian civilian administration, including zoning and planning, within the interior of such Palestinian enclaves. Such enclaves and access routes will be subject to Israeli security responsibility.
  • Beyond its borders, the State of Palestine will have high-speed transportation links (such as the West Bank/Gaza connection), and until such time as the State of Palestine may develop its own port, access to two designated port facilities in the State of Israel.
  • Two access roads will be built for the benefit of the State of Palestine that will be subject to Israeli security requirements. These roads will enable Palestinians to cross the Jordan Valley to the border crossing with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, allow Jordanians and others from the region to enter the State of Palestine.

Small detail of goals in “Economic part” of DoC

The economic portion of the Doc is slightly similar to the Marshall Plan which was aimed to rebuild Western European economies after World War II. This part of DoC (more in Palestine: Peace & Prosperity Plan ) was billed as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” The plan calls for a $50 billion mix of grants, loans and private investments over ten years to develop a future Palestinian state’s infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism and health care industries. Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, states that have absorbed Palestinian refugees for decades, would receive nearly half the funding.

 

Some critical remarks

In my opinion the DoC could be even better. From my point of view the map would be more clear if Israel would annex only some 200,000 Israelis who live in the 12 Jewish neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and the second group of some 300,000 Israelis who live in the so called ‘settlement blocs,’ located west of the security barrier which are usually very close to the Green Line. The rest 90,000 settlers – less than 20 per cent of the entire population of those living beyond the Green Line – who live beyond the route of the security barrier, could be relocated inside barrier and future border.

There is a risk – according study by Commanders for Israel’s Security (CIS)that the annexation might lead to the collapse of the Palestinian Authority and the absence of an alternative government authority will force Israel to seize control of Areas A and B and to impose upon them a Military Administration regime. The annexation of the entire West Bank will constitute the irreversible abandonment of the trend toward separation and the de facto adoption of a one-state outcome.

I think that the core problem is whether Israel is a democratic state including its Palestinian residents from disputed territories or a Jewish State separating Israeli citizens from most part of Palestinian residents in West Bank; Israel can be democratic only if all its citizens have equal human and political rights.

From my point of view Israel’s borders are defensible even if Israel annexes only 5-15% of West Bank and after Security Barrier has completed. I base this claim e.g. with following aspects:

  • Israel has military and intelligence edge and I don’t have any doubts that it can keep this edge also in future,
  • IDF, Mossad, Shin Bet etc can copy fast and flexible way to any new threads and challenges be they kite balloon or cyber attacks e.g. due first class ecosystem supporting new innovations,
  • IDF is developing whole time both technic and strategic levels and probably it will have also enough financial resources to be updated based to its popular support in Israeli society;  IDF is one of the most respected organisations in Israel.

If aspects mentioned above are valid it makes possible political decisions – negotiated or unilateral – like separation and relocating outposts. (More in Israel´s Eastern Border? )

Two-States according Deal of Century. Source: The White House

The DoC contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine. The Triangle is an area southeast of Haifa, near the Palestinian city of Jenin, which includes 14 towns and villages where more than 260,000 Arab Israelis live. These communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, were originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations of the Armistice Line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons that have since been mitigated.

Residents of those areas have protested against the idea that they may one day be redefined as living in a new Palestine state.  I don’t understand why this kind of detail still is in final version of DoC;  one reason why the Triangle is in DoC could be to win support from hawkish Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman who has long advocated for such adjustments in any peace deal with the Palestinians.

 

sinai option by Ari RusilaMy third critical view is related to land swaps in Negev as those planned industrial, agricultural and residential zones are artificial and a bit isolated from Gaza.

In my opinion implementing the sc Sinai Option in cooperation with Egypt would be much better solution to Egypt, Israel and Gazans. This option was last time in public 2014 when – according Middle East Monitor (MEMO) report [01 September 2014 ] – Egypt offered Palestinian Authority’s President Abbas a Palestinian state in Sinai. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi offered Palestinian Authority 620 square miles of land adjacent to Gaza in exchange for relinquishing claims to 1967 borders for the purpose of establishing a Palestinian state. (More in Sinai Option again )

 

 

Is DoC politically realizable?

Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose (Bret Stephens)

Comprehensive peace proposals were presented to Palestinian leadership three times in the past – once by the United Nations (1947) and twice by Israel (2000, 2008). All three times, Palestinian leadership rejected broad peace deals, while Israel said yes. Palestinian rejection – anchored in refusal to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state – remains the primary obstacle to peace. As Israel made major concessions for peace with Egypt and Jordan , so probably Israel will do the same with Palestinians based on DoC and possible negotiations with Palestinians.

Many ministers from Netanyahu’s Likud party as well as the Yamina alliance of right-wing parties are against the Trump plan, if it includes any mention of a Palestinian state. However in my opinion clear majority of center-right and center-left political parties support DoC so saying “yes” to a Palestinian state on what is likely to be some 80% of the West Bank, while also agreeing to a Palestinian capital on the northern and eastern outskirts of Jerusalem beyond the current security barrier.

In Judea and Samaria the PA and Fatah declared a “day of rage” in the Jordan Valley. They also organized protests in cities and at the friction points with the Israeli security forces. However only few dozen Palestinians participated in the protests at the various locations, and in some instances they clashed with the Israeli security forces. As there were no mass demonstrations and the events did not spin out of control, the situation and reactions were completely different than e.g. during 2nd Intifada after failure of the 2000 Camp David Summit to reach final agreement on the conflict.

Arab powers appear to be prioritizing close ties with the United States that are vital to countering Iran over traditional unswerving support for the Palestinians in their reaction to President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. Despite Palestinians’ rejection of the plan and boycott of Trump over perceived pro-Israel bias, three Gulf Arab states – Oman, Bahrain and the UAE – attended the White House gathering in a sign of changing times. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE issued statements welcoming the Trump administration’s peace plan.

This time the U.S. initiative has a wide regional support and probably it will gain support also among Palestinian population as it indeed gives “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” So from my point of view the plan, also its political part, has good change to be implemented also without acceptance from current Palestinian leadership.

Also The United States hopes that DoC will lead to direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and then it will be up to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take courageous and bold actions to end the political stalemate, resume negotiations on the basis of Doc, and make lasting peace and economic prosperity a reality.

New high-tech Qalandiya Crossing: the process of examination and entry at the crossing has been shortened so that passing through requires only a few minutes as opposed to the hours it required in the past. Source: COGAT

 

My view

Every Time Palestinians Say ‘No,’ They Lose (Bret Stephens)

Israel and Palestinian Authority have negotiated two decades about solution based on Two-States, and now maybe more than ever one can claim that the roadmap towards it is the dead end. Instead the situation today is drifting towards One-State option, which is unwanted outcome for both parties. The outcome of the U.S. initiative may well be Two-States but the roadmap is new with regional and economy first approach and this in my opinion gives a better change for positive development and even solution this time.

Prior U.S. and international efforts to settle the more than 70-year Israeli-Palestinian conflict have focused on a process that would leave many of the most sensitive issues to negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Trump plan veered from that by presenting a proposed final outcome. No prior conception of a peace settlement, moreover, has gone as far in articulating a plan to foster Palestinian civil and economic vitality.

I agree with President Trump that his Vision is the most serious, realistic, and detailed plan ever presented, one that could make Israelis, Palestinians, and the region safer and more prosperous. In my opinion even at minimum it creates updated framework for possible Israeli-Palestinian negotiation as well possible one-sided Israeli actions if negotiations don’t start. DoC is just the first step and provides the basis for historic progress toward peace.  Anyway the best aspect with DoC in my opinion is that it simply mirrors the reality on the ground as it exists today in the West Bank and not high-flown ideas and utopies.

 

Some of my related articles:

Israel-Palestine Conflict: Regional Approach

New” Idea: Connecting Gaza to Northern Sinai

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: A Revised Hybrid Model as Solution

Palestinians Put Jordanian Option on the Table

Constructive Unilateralism (II) as Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Herzog’s Plan: Security Barrier Around the Major Settlement Blocs of West Bank

Analysis: Resolving The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach


Appendix:

From deal to ”Quality peace”

The only way to solve a conflict at any level of society is to sit down face to face and talk about it.” (John W. McDonald)

.

Deal of Century is exellent peace plan but does it sole the conflict is other question. From my point of view current peacemaking, peace-building or crisis management structures are not designed to cope today’s modern type of conflicts. In my opinion peacemaking is only secondary action by managing conflicts – a deeper holistic approach is needed to make more sustainable solutions. This approach can have an outcome which I call ”Quality peace”.

More about holistic approach e.g :

Peacemaking – a Holistic Approach

Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

R2P vs Facades of Interventions

Multifaceted Intervention Practices

Quality Peace?


Palestine: Peace & Prosperity Plan

July 7, 2019

[An improved economic situation was] “a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” (Jared Kushner)

 

Peace to Prosperity” can be seen as the first part of long waited ”Deal of the century”, an “out of the box” plan made by by the Trump administration. It was made for public in the Bahrain Conference late June 2019. The plan is billed as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” The political portion of the U.S. plan, is coming after Israeli elections in September 2019.

The United States has now released the economic portion of its proposed Mideast peace plan. The plan calls for a $50 billion mix of grants, loans and private investments over ten years to develop a future Palestinian state’s infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism and health care industries. Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, states that have absorbed Palestinian refugees for decades, would receive nearly half the funding.

The U.S. initiative planed by the Trump administration is pursuing the goal of changing the Palestinian experience from a society of miserable “refugees” into a prosperous society.

The plan itself is laid out in a 40-page document that can be downloaded e.g. from White House webpage. The plan is divided into three parts: unleashing economic potential, empowering the Palestinian people, and enhancing Palestinian governance. Each section is around 10 pages long, which makes them appear equal in importance. The three sections are divided into sub-sections, where a total of 50 different topics are covered, from educational access to property rights and roads and rail connections. In this, the plan appears exhaustive.

Below some highlights from “Peace to Prosperity” plan, The White House  as source:

 

Näyttökuva (109)

 

The economy

The first initiative will UNLEASH THE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL of the Palestinians By

  • developing property and contract rights,
  • the rule of law and anti-corruption measures,
  • capital markets,
  • a pro-growth tax structure and a low-tariff scheme with reduced trade barriers.

This initiative envisions policy reforms coupled with strategic infrastructure investments that will improve the business environment and stimulate private-sector growth. Hospitals, schools, homes, and businesses will secure reliable access to affordable electricity, clean water, and digital services.

Billions of dollars of new investment will flow into various sectors of the Palestinian economy; businesses will have access to capital; and the markets of the West Bank and Gaza will be connected with key trading partners, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon.

The resulting economic growth has the potential to end the current unemployment crisis and transform the West Bank and Gaza into a center of opportunity.

 

The people

The second initiative will EMPOWER THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE to realize their ambitions, Through

  • new data-driven, outcomes-based education options at home,
  • expanded online education platforms,
  • increased vocational and technical training, and
  • the prospect of international exchanges,

this initiative will enhance and expand a variety of programs that directly improve the well-being of the Palestinian people. It will strengthen the Palestinian educational system and ensure that students can fulfill their academic goals and be prepared for the workforce.

Equally important, access to quality healthcare will be dramatically improved, as Palestinian hospitals and clinics will be outfitted with the latest healthcare technology and equipment.

New opportunities for cultural and recreational activities will improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people. From parks and cultural institutions, to athletic facilities and libraries, this initiative’s projects will enrich public life throughout the West Bank and Gaza.

 

 

The government

The third initiative will ENHANCE PALESTINIAN GOVERNANCE, improving the public sector’s ability to serve its citizens and enable private-sector growth. This initiative will support the public sector in undertaking the improvements and reforms necessary to achieve long-term economic success.

A commitment to

  • upholding property rights,
  • improving the legal and regulatory framework for businesses,
  • adopting a growth-oriented, enforceable tax structure, and
  • developing robust capital markets

will increase exports and foreign direct investment.

A fair and independent judicial branch will ensure this pro-growth environment is protected and that civil society flourishes.

New systems and policies will help bolster government transparency and accountability.

International partners will work to eliminate the Palestinian public sector’s donor dependency and put the Palestinians on a trajectory to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability.

Institutions will be modernized and made more efficient to facilitate the most effective delivery of essential services for the citizens.

With the support of the Palestinian leadership, this initiative can usher in a new era of freedom and opportunity for the Palestinian people and institutionalize the policies required for successful economic transformation.

 

The outcome

The plan aims to double the GDP of the Palestinians, and create one million jobs in 10 years timefrsame. Now the Palestinian GDP is larger than that of Somalia and South Sudan but smaller than Afghanistan’s. GDP per capita is around $2,200 in Ramallah, while it is more than $35,000 in Israel and $4,000 in Jordan. From 2012 to 2016, the Palestinian Authority received a total of more than $4 billion in aid, making them some of the “top recipients of non-military per capita aid in the world.”

With the potential to facilitate more than $50 billion in new investment over ten years, Peace to Prosperity represents the most ambitious and comprehensive international effort for the Palestinian people to date. It has the ability to fundamentally transform the West Bank and Gaza and to open a new chapter in Palestinian history—one defined, not by adversity and loss, but by freedom and dignity.

 

My view

The Trump administration has now kicked off an economic portion of its long-awaited plan for Arab-Israeli peace. 

The White House website called the document “a new vision for the Palestinian people and broader Middle East.” However Kushner’s approach – economic development before political settlement – is not totally unique for solving Israel-Palestine conflict. The US vision essentially turns the “refugees” from liabilities into assets, thereby taking the refugee issue off the table. There is an example from year 1959 when UNSG Dag Hammarskjold presented his initiative (UN General Assembly document no. A/4121) absorpt the refugees into the economy of the Arab region financed by oil revenues and international funds up to $2 billion.

The Hammarskjold and Kushner plans had/have similar intentions but faced also with same critics. Putting economic cooperation with Israel ahead of political cooperation was deemed unacceptable, no matter what benefits might create to the Palestinian people. The main objection by Palestinian Authority is that the plan offers an economic vision but postpones the political issues at the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The difference is that some members of Arab League now are behind new plan and critics is coming mostly from the current leadership of Palestinian Authority. This makes it easier for Trump/Kushner also to implement the deal.

Comprehensive peace proposals were presented to Palestinian leadership three times in the past – once by the United Nations (1947) and twice by Israel (2000, 2008). All three times, Palestinian leadership rejected broad peace deals, while Israel said yes. Palestinian rejection – anchored in refusal to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state – remains the primary obstacle to peace. As Israel made major concessions for peace with Egypt and Jordan , so probably Israel will do the same with Palestinians.

This time thee U.S. initiative has a wide regional support and probably it will gain support also among Palestinian population as it indeed gives “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society.” So from my point of view the plan, also its political part, has good change to be implemented also without acceptance from current Palestinian leadership.

Israel and Palestinian Authority have negotiated two decades about solution based on Two-States, and now maybe more than ever one can claim that the roadmap towards it is the dead end. Instead the situation today is drifting towards One-State option, which is unwanted outcome for both parties. The outcome of the U.S. initiative may well be Two-States but the roadmap is new with regional and economy first approach and this in my opinion gives a better change for positive development and even solution this time.

The main sources for  this article have been: BESA, The White House and The Focus project.


This article first appeared in Conflicts by Ari Rusila website